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Overall mine operating costs in the fourth quarter increased 15 percent from a year earlier due to rehabilitation work at the 777 Mine and higher production costs at the Lalor gold-zinc-copper project in Manitoba, but HudBay said it expects Lalor costs to decrease in the second half of this year when the project is commissioned and the production rate is doubled.
Meanwhile, the Reed copper project in Manitoba is on track to reach commercial production by the second quarter of 2014, while the Constancia copper project in Peru also is on schedule to begin pre-stripping late in the first quarter of 2014 and commercial production in the second quarter of 2015. Constancias development was more than 56-percent complete as of Dec. 31.
The company also outlined its plans to acquire the outstanding common shares of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Augusta Resource Corp. (amm.com, Feb. 12) as part of "the next phase of HudBays growth." The company already owns a 16-percent stake in Augusta, which operates the undeveloped Rosemont copper project in southern Arizona.
"We view Augustas Rosemont project as an attractive complement to our existing portfolio of high-quality, long-life assets that fits well with our construction timeline at Constancia," HudBay president and chief executive officer David Garofalo said in a statement.
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--Mark Bula, Big River Steel